Brand Positioning and Promise

I attend at least three networking events a week. Of course, I discuss what Bop Design does for small businesses. When speaking to people, I have noticed there is much confusion about branding. Many people think branding is really just a logo or the “look and feel” of a website. They focus on the design elements behind branding but don’t think of the strategy. Two major elements of branding are brand positioning and the brand promise. As a small business owner, it is critical you focus on both elements.

With brand positioning, marketers try to create an idea among their target market of what a service provider or product stands for. For instance, WalMart is positioned as the “low cost leader.” BMW is positioned as the “ultimate driving machine.” TRESemme is positioned as “professional, affordable.” Usually a product or service is positioned by qualities like cost, quality, or target market. The brand position needs to be consistent throughout your marketing efforts or customers will be confused. For example, the Snickers Marathon energy bar targeting health conscious, fitness buffs could create some confusion. Most people think of the Snickers brand as a candy bar that “really satisfies” when you’re hungry not when you’re about to run a race! As a small business owner you must make sure that your brand is positioned consistently and accurately in all marketing efforts from website to advertising to social media, etc.

The next element of branding is the brand promise, which is related to brand positioning. The brand promise addresses customers’ expectations about a product or service. For instance, WalMart’s brand positioning as the “low cost leader” promises customers that they can trust WalMart has the lowest price for a product. Chances are, customers will not expect Nordstrom type service when shopping at WalMart- that is not an aspect of their brand promise. The brand promise is the execution of the brand position. Sometimes brand positioning and its execution are misaligned. An example of this is Kaiser Permanente. Over the past few years, Kaiser’s brand campaign has positioned the brand as a high-end health care provider focused on wellness, which targets affluent customers. The campaign is summed up with the tagline, “Live Well and Thrive.” Now I grew up with Kaiser insurance and as one of my doctors put it, “Kaiser is a great healthcare plan for healthy people.” It was a healthcare plan that served as a cost effective solution for my parents who were raising five children. I never thought of Kaiser as a “country club” health plan. If I was a marketer of Kaiser, I would be concerned about customers having unrealistic expectations about the brand and utlimately being disappointed by Kaiser’s service delivery. Its brand promise cannot be executed and customers will not be happy.

As a small business, start thinking about how you want to be viewed by customers and delivering on your brand promise. By positioning your brand effectively, there will be no mystery among your target customers regarding what you stand for. If you deliver on your brand promise, you will achieve long-term customer satisfaction.


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